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St. Louis district sues to stop charter school from opening in the city

Nov. 10, 2023
The lawsuit contends that Believe STL Academy failed to notify the district of its plans to open in 2024.

The St. Louis school board is suing the state of Missouri to block the opening of a new charter school.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the proposed charter school, Believe STL Academy, is accused of failing to inform the St. Louis district of its intent to open in 2024, as required by state law.

Named as defendants in the suit are the Missouri State Board of Education, the Missouri State Charter School Commission and Believe STL Academy.

Charter school operators are required to provide the local school district with a copy of their application within five days of filing with their sponsor. St. Louis district officials say in the lawsuit they never received the application. The state board of education approved the new school at its October meeting.

Believe STL Academy says it sent the district an email on Sept. 19 about plans to open of the school, according to a statement from its executive director Kimberly Neal-Brannum.

"We are confident that we have followed the law," she said.

Believe STL Academy expects to have 440 students in ninth through 12th grades by 2027, according to its application. The school is a replica of Believe Circle City charter high school in Indianapolis, which Neal-Brannum opened in fall 2020.

Charters have had a mixed record since they opened in St. Louis in 2000. More than half of the 37 charter school operators that have come to the city have folded because of financial or academic failures.

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